By Mary O’KEEFE
The JROTC Annual Rummage Sale will be held on Dec. 11 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Crescenta Valley High School cafeteria. Seventy-six families have cleaned out their closets, garages and attics to gather treasures to sell in support of their program. Funds raised goes to support JROTC.
Most in the community see the cadets in their crisp blue uniforms at events like the Memorial and Veterans’ days ceremonies but they keep busy throughout the year.
Lt. Col. Dave Worley is the mentor/teacher of JROTC. He leads students in the class as well as in after school programs. He keeps his kids organized despite the fact their calendar is filling up quickly as word of their presentation of the Colors and Missing in Action/Prisoner of War ceremony spreads.
“We have done more events this year than we have [in the past],” Worley said. “Last we did 60 events; this year we have 75 planned. We didn’t have more than 10 before Veterans’ Day last year, this year we have had 20 events.”
To say Worley’s classroom and after school program is a well-oiled machine would be an understatement.
“These kids are well received at [these events] and are very professional,” he said.
There are 70 kids in the entire program. Like band and cheerleading, JROTC has regular classes five days a week and then after or before school, activities for special sections like the Drill and Ceremony team. One of the most popular ceremonies is the presentation of the MIA/POW table.
Worley began training cadets in the program five years ago. They were doing the ceremony twice a year, once at Memorial Day and once at a school assembly. That has changed however as the word got out about this somber and respectful event.
“At military dinners there is a table set for MIA and POWs,” Worley said.
The ceremony requires the cadets to walk very slowly with precise timing as they place symbolic items on the table including a lone candle that symbolizes the frailty of a prisoner alone, a single rose that represents loved ones and families who keep the faith and await their return and salt for the tears shed by loved ones.
Worley has trained his kids despite being short an assistant. While he is in the process of combing through applications for another assistant, retired Rosemont Middle School teacher and veteran Lynn McGinnis fills the classroom void.
At its foundation JROTC is a leadership program. Worley added the most common misconception of the program is that it is used as a military recruitment tool.
“Only 5% of kids that are in JROTC go on to the military nationwide,” he said.
Leadership, teamwork and organizational skills work in the military. Those traits are taught in ROTC.
Cadet Ben Marchman is an example of JROTC theory in practice.
“I was shy when I joined as a freshman,” said Marchman, now a junior. “ROTC has taught me how to speak up for myself.”
His brother was in the core and talked about how fun it was.
“I’m not in it for the military,” he said. “But you feel a sense of accomplishment when you are here. You’re not just hanging around but you are doing something.”
He added it also means something when veterans come up to him and thank him for the ceremony he has just completed.
“When I help plan a major event [and it is done], I feel so proud,” he said. “This program has made me set my goals higher.”